May 5th, 2004

Libraries and Museums

Reading Basbanes' third book about books, book people and book places, I was irresistably drawn to my own local library, less than a mile away, where I attempted an interlibrary loan of the recent translation of part of Photius' The Bibliotheca. I don't know how that's going to turn out. My experience of interlibrary loan as a child was vast -- all libraries, to my mind, were magic portals to all other libraries. The delay could be long and there was no transparency to the process (not that I used that word that way back then), but eventually, the requested item would appear, stamped with words like University of Illinois, or Library of Congress, or some other mystical, far off repository of All Books Ever Written. Really. When my sister and I read ancient children's books acquired at garage sales, our response was to note down the other books by authors we liked, and, if the county library system didn't have them, submit interlibrary loan requests for all of them. Apparently this isn't typical of small children. But then I wasn't exactly a typical small child. I'm reminded of this, because I said exactly the same thing to Roland last night, pointing out that my first visit to an archive was to the National Archives at Sand Point to view recently declassified material about the development of nuclear weapons at Hanford for a History Day Project. I wrote an epic poem for it and got an Honorable Mention. I was fourteen at the time.

In any event, I'll be volunteering at that library, and hopefully in a position to shepherd through my request, and, if necessary, grease the wheels to make my library a magic portal. Seems like a worthy cause to me, anyway.

Brookline Library is a magic portal to local museums. You can check out passes to several. I went to the Currier today in Manchester. The current traveling exhibit is from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and its African American artists, including a few Jacob Lawrence pieces I had not yet seen, always a good thing. In the main holdings, today was also the first time I saw (or even heard of) Neil Welliver. Wow. Who knew. That is some truly wonderful work.

Tonight is the Charms and the Raveonettes at the big room at the Paradise. And some other band whose name I have already forgotten.
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